Lancashire’s relegation to Division 2 has come as a big shock to many. The side that finished 2nd in Division 1 last year witnessed its fortunes declining at a rapid pace. The club, known for giving English cricket some of its finest players such as Jimmy Anderson and Andrew Flintoff, has struggled immensely to win games this season.
With just three wins in 14 Championship games this season, Lancashire’s season was marred by frequent batting collapses, failure to capitalize on crucial moments, and a severe dearth of cohesion.
Paper-thin Batting Order
A major reason behind the team’s dismal performances this season has been the batting order’s inability to score big runs. The likes of Keaton Jennings, Jordan Clark, Dane Vilas, and Alex Davies have all shown glimpses of their potential, but a severe lack of significant contributions at the top of the order have adversely affected the team’s ability to win matches. Lack of cohesion has hindered the team's chances to put up strong first innings totals.
Also, a major problem faced by the side during the season was the inability of the senior pros to step up during crunch moments throughout the tournament. The spectators at the Old Trafford witnessed several glimpses of brilliance from the likes of Dane Vilas and Liam Livingstone, but a severe lack of consistency hit the team's chances quite drastically.
The Bowling Line-up Has Been a Silver Lining
Lancashire's bowling line-up has performed reasonably well. English cricket has found a gem of a player in Tom Bailey, this season's leading wicket-taker. Tom Bailey showcased his ability to dismantle the opposition's batting order.
Graham Onions, the veteran seamer, who joined Lancashire from Durham, lead the team's pace attack on quite a few occasions this year. With 57 scalps in 12 Championship matches this year, the 35-year-old has been in the best of forms during the fag-end of his career.
With the bowling line-up sharing the honours on a regular basis, Lancashire's team management can at least be assured that the side's bowling reserves don't need a significant transformation.
The Overseas Recruits
With no dearth of financial resources, Lancashire had the luxury of signing proven international bowlers in Joe Mennie (Aus) and Keshav Maharaj (SA). Both these overseas recruits performed reasonably well.
Mennie was impressive with his lines and lengths, and took 28 wickets in seven Championship games. Keshav Maharaj, with his clever variations, troubled the batsmen and took 17 wickets in three games.
The Highlight of the Season
The highlight of the season was Lancashire's splendid fightback against Somerset. The match, played from 10-13 September saw Lancashire clawing back from the jaws of defeat to bundle out Somerset for 77.
The victory, in all fairness, was set up by the bowlers, with Maharaj finishing with match figures of 11 for 102. The autumn sunshine at Taunton witnessed one of the biggest cliffhangers in the history of English domestic cricket.
In the Limited-overs Format
Torrid times continued to haunt the Red Rose County in one-day cricket as well. The club failed to qualify for the knockout stages ( North Division). The Lancs were placed sixth in a division comprising nine teams. The team won just three of the eight games it played. It lost four games while the game against Warwickshire could not yield a result.
Misery with the bat continued for the "Red Rose" County as frequent batting collapses kept on hampering the side's chances to post strong totals.
Twenty 20 Blast
The shortest format of the game saw Lancashire restoring some pride. The club performed well during the Vitality Blast and won eight of the 14 matches it played. The club qualified for the knockout stages. It even defeated the Spitfires from Kent in the Quarter-Final clash but were defeated by the Worcestershire Rapids in the semi-finals, who eventually ended up winning the title.
Reasonably good performances by the likes of Liam Livingstone, all-rounder James Faulkner, and Keaton Jennings meant that the fans at the Old Trafford had something to cheer and rejoice.
All in all, the 'Red Rose' county had some really dismal outings this year. Witnessing a club as illustrious as Lancashire being relegated to the bottom division has come as a shock to many. It would be interesting to see whether or not the team is able to bounce back next year.